Weekly Tour: Imagine Peace Tower

Weekly Tour: Imagine Peace Tower

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Jóhanna Pétursdóttir
Photos by
Art Bicnick

I have always wondered about the bright beam of light I see shining into the night sky from my bedroom window. I didn’t dwell on it much, until I heard that it’s an artwork created by Yoko Ono, representing the hope for world peace in memory of John Lennon. My curiosity was kindled, so I was happy when the opportunity arose to take a tour of this mysterious Peace Tower, located on the small island of Viðey in the Faxaflói bay.

The trip begins at 8pm, when Reykjavík has already fallen into wintry twilight. We walk along the harbour, looking for the Elding ferry hut. The attendant points to the shore, where ten or so people board a small white boat decorated with red christmas lights. I’ve come straight from the office, so I’m not dressed for the cold, but the tour guide offers me a blanket so I can sit outside and enjoy the view of Reykjavík’s harbour as we cast off and head out to sea.

It’s pitch-dark on the island, so we’re given flashlights to help us during the short hike up to the tower. During the ten-minute walk it becomes clear how deserted the 1.6km island is. As we approach the tower, we pass a single restaurant and a church that’s allegedly the second oldest in Iceland.

Our guide gives us complete silence to appreciate the tower, but is always right behind us if we have any questions. The beam of light is created by a total 15 bulbs, 6 of them reflecting on mirrors, and the others just pointing towards a focus point that’s 12km up in the sky. But the light reaches even further than that. I’m speechless as I look up and see the powerful beam shooting up into the darkness. No photograph can do justice to the feeling.

We spend about 20 minutes walking around the white tower, then go to warm up in a cosy hut with some hot chocolate. There’s a peace tree in the hut, and each of us is encouraged to write our own thoughts on a small piece of paper and hang it on the tree. With the inspiring message of Yoko Ono on our minds we write out our purest hopes, before heading back to Reykjavík and our everyday lives.